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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative hires Obama campaign mastermind David Plouffe

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Plouffe will lead policy and advocacy

TechCrunch Disrupt NY 2016 - Day 2 Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan have hired David Plouffe, the manager of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, to lead policy and advocacy efforts for their philanthropic arm. The news of Plouffe’s new role at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, as the organization is called, was announced in a Facebook post published on Zuckerberg’s page this afternoon. Also joining the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative is Ken Mehlman, the manager of George W. Bush’s 2004 reelection campaign and a former Republican National Committee chairman from 2005 to 2007.

Following his role in Obama’s ‘08 campaign and a role as senior advisor to the president, Plouffe became a political strategist for Silicon Valley. Most notably, Plouffe was brought on at Uber in 2014 to lead its policy and communications efforts, much of which were aimed at fighting municipal regulations and the taxi industry. At the time of his hiring, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick referred to Plouffe as “a proven field general and strategist who built the startup that elected a president.”

It’s unclear exactly what role Plouffe will play at Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. But the organization, founded in December 2015, is centered on giving away roughly 99 percent of the couple’s wealth. And with a net worth of about $52 billion, Zuckerberg — who has pledged to give $1 billion a year in Facebook stock to the limited liability company — is among the richest people on the planet. Zuckerberg and Chan now plan on following in the footsteps of Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, who, with his wife Melinda, has overseen one of the largest and most impactful philanthropy efforts in the world.

To that end, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative has been plucking top names from Silicon Valley and beyond to build out a team that can oversee efforts as diverse as “curing all disease” to training programmers in developing nations to revamping domestic education and energy policy. One of its first major hires was Amazon executive Brian Pinkerton, who now serves as the initiative’s chief technology officer.

It’s likely Plouffe will act as a communications specialist and liaison between the philanthropy organization and Washington. He’ll be working closely with Mehlman, who is tasked with leading a new political advisory board, to bring in more members in the coming months.

Still, Plouffe isn’t out at Uber, despite his new philanthropy role. In a statement given to The Verge, Kalanick says the political strategist will remain an Uber board member and a personal advisor.

"Three years ago, I was looking for someone to help guide Uber's strategy as we launched in more cities around the globe. David impressed me with his storytelling skills, his ability to connect with people on a human level, and his incredible passion for Uber and our mission,” Kalanick says. “I'm excited that he'll bring that passion to the world-changing efforts underway at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, and that he will remain a key part of our family as an Uber board member, an advocate for our company and an advisor to me."

- Source: Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook)